Health Canada’s COVID Alert app now available for download

COVID Alert

The COVID Alert app is available for Apple and Android devices

As of Friday, Canadians were able to download it on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

"Health experts say if enough people sign up, this app can help prevent future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada".

The COVID Alert uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with other nearby app users every five minutes. If someone tests positive for COVID, their public health authority will give them a one-time key to enter in the app.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they are given a code to enter into COVID Alert, which is then sent to a central server.

The initial rollout is only in Ontario now but officials are encouraging Canadians across the country to download the app in anticipation of more provincial and territorial health authorities signing on to use the new software.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has downloaded the app.

"I want to be clear - this app isn't mandatory".

The Canadian government said that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) were consulted to ensure the highest level of privacy for Canadians using the app. "This will let us know if there are any unknown bugs to fix before launching the app", the service said in a tweet on the same day.

"Canadians can opt to use this technology knowing it includes very significant privacy protections", said Daniel Therrien, privacy commissioner of Canada, in the statement, adding that he will "use it".

The app is voluntary, and tells users if or when they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. "I encourage all Ontarians to download the app, as early detection of cases will be important as we continue to carefully reopen more of the province".

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Government officials also declined to call the app "contact tracing", since it does not collect personal contact information or trace locations.

The health information of anyone you're near.

It won't notify you if you just pass an infected person on the street. Otherwise, Geist said at the time, people may feel a false sense of security because they are not being notified.

Alberta was the first Canadian province to launch a voluntary coronavirus contact tracing application in May, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) ABTraceTogether app.

While the Android version requires users to turn on their location settings, officials maintain the app will not know a user's location, name or address.

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"This Ontario-made app keeps people informed about being potentially exposed to the virus and allows them to act quickly to stop the spread of the virus".

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